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Addiction Rates In Long-Term Chronic Pain Patients.

Kevin R James chronic pain adovcate

One of the most interesting webinars during National Pain Week in Australia, held from Monday 25-7-22 through to Friday 29-7-22, and hosted by Chronic Pain Australia via Facebook Live video, was a segment within the Opening Launch, whereby Associate Professor/Pain Medicine Specialist Mick Vagg answered the following important question, posed by myself:

“How is psychological addiction in long-term chronic pain patients, who’ve had no previous history of substance abuse or trauma in their life, assessed effectively?”

A/Prof Vagg opened by stating “Many of the things which predispose to addiction: early life trauma; abandonment; neglect, ALSO predispose to chronic pain.” [i.e. in later life].

Critically, he also admitted “I’m NOT sure that exposure to potentially [NOTE the word ‘potentially’] addicting drugs like opioids accounts for the increased rate of addiction that we see” etc.

In fact, he made 2 distinct points:

  1. “A lot of my patients are…’good opioid citizens.’ They are on a modest dose, [and are people] who get good results, and who don’t seem to get any side effects or long-term harm.” AND
  2. “These are the people who are reliable and who, IF you take them off the opioids, they are going to get WITHDRAWAL, because they are PHYSICALLY dependent, but they’re NOT addicted.

Finally, he highlighted that “A lot of our policy has been driven by addiction fears, not so much the fact that this is a vulnerable group of patients anyway [i.e. responsible chronic pain patients]. I think it’s still possible to use opioids safely.”

IF a leading Pain Specialist can see these truths, & understands the consequences of force-tapering vulnerable chronic pain patients from their mobility-restoring & life-saving pain killers, why is it so hard for our policy makers to admit the obvious mistakes made?

Chronic pain patients clearly did not cause the misunderstood & mishandled ‘opioid’ crisis [in America or Australia], & should not be demonised, punished & stigmatised, all because of rank ignorance at the highest level from those without clinical experience!

These are the opinions of the author of this Post, feel free to disagree…

Full Facebook Live Link as follows:

Excerpt from A/Prof. Vagg as follows:

Published originally at:

Republished with permission.

Kevin R James
Author: Kevin R James

Chronic Pan Patient Advocate and Writer. Medically Retired RN [B.Nurs.]

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